The Story:Web Idea

Story:Web is an idea that reimagines museums for climate action – taking them from place-based holders of the past to collectively curated, global, big-data resources that can be accessed and experienced, remotely from across the world.

Story:Web explores what happens if we consider museum collections as big data, linked with other organisations’ collections and with publicly shared media on websites such as Flickr and Bandcamp. In this way every collection object or media item becomes a Story:Snippet, which can be linked by different authors to tell larger stories.

This Story:Web of big data can then be mined, shared and contributed to both by humans and non-humans (artificial intelligences). Story:Webs and Story:Snippets support new ways of storytelling, with museums and the public as co-authors and co-curators, which encourage discovery, reflection, and action.

Story:Web was exhibited at the Glasgow Science Centre from June to November 2021 on the lead up to and during COP26 - the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.

Museum collections are more than objects, they are objects with stories that should evoke emotional responses and provoke reflection. Collections can sometimes lose their power to amaze, by being fixed in time and perspective.

The web allows the sharing and reuse of public domain media including photographs, video, and sound created by professionals and enthusiasts. Yet this rich catalogue can be lost more widely.

Story:Web is an innovative idea to use existing technology to connect museum collections and publicly shared media to rewrite stories, grow them and make them personal, co-authored by museums and the public in general to stimulate thought and action.

Story:Web uses metadata, artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, and human-centred interfaces to link, visualise and produce sound from a dynamic and extensible web of data (text, audio, images, datasets) as Story:Snippets. Snippets can be linked in different ways, by different people, to tell different stories, moving museum collections away from being assembled solely by professionals, privileging western stories and ideas, with some objects distant from their source communities.

Snippets and interconnections could be contributed to Story:Web by anyone – members of the public, campaigners or professionals, and by the Story:Web AI discovering snippets from other digital collections and publicly shared social media.

Story:Web encourages discovery, reflection and action through interactions that cycle between large sets of data (webs) and small details (snippets), and creates an immersive experience via images and sound. By using Story:Web anyone can discover and link Story:Snippets. In this way, storytelling goes beyond the museum to enable diverse people and groups to tell stories that are seen through their own values, culture and experiences.

AIs will add a climate change dimension to the Story:Web by linking climate change impacts and solution Snippets within the web. Within the co-curated stories, these snippets will make explicit the ecological, social and cultural dimensions of the environmental change that has been driven by human actions, at different time-scales, empowering action by discovering, revealing and sharing.

Story:Web is a new project from Simon Bowen at Open Lab , Sarah Mander at Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and The Centre for Climate Change and Social Transitions , the Great North Museum: Hancock , and contemporary musician, field recordist and sound artist David de la Haye - the creative and scientific partnership behind the innovative climate change engagement installations Here and Now and Making Marks , the latter hosted as part of The Great North Museum:Hancock’s Dippy on Tour programme which centred around Climate Change and biodiversity loss.